Habib again

The Monday Message Board has a lively discussion of the Habib case, and I thought I’d make my own observations. Based on the evidence I’ve seen, I’m fairly confident of three things

* Habib was up to something connected with Islamic militants in Afghanistan

* After his arrest he was tortured (in Pakistan and Egypt) and subject to cruel and degrading treatment (in Guantanamo Bay)

* The Australian government knew about and approved Habib’s treatment[1].

A lot of participants in the debate seem to assume that, if you accept the first point, the second and third don’t really matter. I would have hoped that this kind of position didn’t need to be refuted, but that’s apparently not the case, so I’ll try.

Update A lengthy comments thread already, but it’s interesting that no-one, as far as I can see has disagreed with my factual conclusions. If there are people out there who think that Habib is an innocent bystander they haven’t shown up here. And, although there are plenty of commenters willing to defend torture, no-one, it seems, is willing to put their name (or handle) to a claim that the government is telling the truth.

First, torture is evil.

Second, whether or not Habib was guilty as insinuated (he’s never been charged), if you approve of torture you approve of torturing innocents because this will inevitably happen. In fact, it already has.

Third, Habib’s own case illustrates the point that torture doesn’t work, and is counterproductive. The Americans had him (and many of his alleged accomplices) for three years and still couldn’t pin anything on him. If he was a terrorist to start with, he’s a hardened terrorist now. If he was a noisy malcontent, he and all his friends have a lot more reason to be noisy and malcontented, and some will probably go further.

fn1. Of course, with the kind of definitional legerdemain that characterises this government, no evidence could possibly prove this claim. In matters of this kind, things are now set up so that everyone knows and nobody knows.

127 thoughts on “Habib again

  1. Fyodor — 1/3/2005 @ 7:43 am manages to pack a lot of nonsense & falsehoods into 17 short words:

    I’m very pleased to see that this blog’s chief chickenhawk has finally renounced torture and illegal detention.

    Fyodor seems to think that this blog is something like the Council Tip, which he can rock up to each day when he wants to dispose of his rubbish. I think Pr Q should consider putting me on retainer for cleaning up the mess.
    Rubbish #1: I am, for almost two years, against the Iraq war and in favour of a peace settlement with the Suunis at the earliest possible date. Not altogether an unreconstructed hawk.
    Rubbish #2: I am an active member of the ADF. At the Ministers discretion, although things would have to be dire if he called on me, I am available for military service. Unlike Fydodor who, the evidence to hand indicates, combines the worst aspects of “chicken” and “dove”.
    Rubbish # 3: Since I never announced for torture, as Fyodor knows or he would quote me, it is logically impossible to "renounce" torture.
    Rubbish # 4: Detention of terrorist perps or suspects in martial facilities is not, per se, illegal. Therefore I am not about to renounce it.

    Of course, it makes your hypocrisy on GTMO that much more “manifest�
    To a big-mouthed, blowhardy ideologe like Fyodor, every example of ambivalence, or error-correction, is a sign of “hypocrisy”. I am happy to embrace a philosophy that embraces the complexity, contradiction and fuzziness of the world if it means avoiding Fyodor’s solipsistic & moralistic ideological trap.

    KOPASSUS is not a militantly Islamic organization…and you can produce no statement from me contradicting that view.

    KOPASSUS is an enabler of militant Islam, which has been my GWOT point all along. Fyodor denies this reality. He is on record as saying that “KOPASSUS…is not militantly Islamic.”
    I am not a mind reader. Whether KOPASSUS pers. deep down, really and truly believe (or not believe) in militant Islam is a moot point. I read bodies ie actions speak louder than intentions. I say that if it looks like a militant Islamic duck, walks…etc then it is militant Islamic. Thats real world politics. Pakistan’s ISI is, likewise to KOPASSUS, an enabler of militant Islam in its region. Fyodor needs to look at the Bigger Picture.
    The GWOT is mostly about the Clash within Islamic Civilisation, between militants and moderates. It appears that the spear-throwers of the militant side are the security agencies, who seem to be crypto-Islamic. Much as security agencies in pre-war Europe were crypto-Fascist. Roughly speaking the current wave of national fundamentalism in Southern Asia is analogous to the wave of national socialism that swept through Central Europe in the thirties. Nationalism remains the objective ethnological “base” whilst Islamacism is the subjective theological “superstructure”.

    You’ve refused to tackle the Aceh issue because it shows that KOPASSUS, a supposedly militant Islamic group in your view, has brutally suppressed a, you guessed it, militantly Islamic separatist movement.

    If I tackled Fyodor’s every red herring tosssed up or straw man constructed then I would have little time for the real world. He is clueless about the sectarian reality of Islamic politics. The Islamic world is full of conflicts between militant Islamics, as well as the larger one between militants and moderates and the headline one between Islamics and infidels. Its a contentious old faith, is Islam.
    As we speak there are Suuni militants trying to suppress a Shiite militants in Iraq, over the issue of sovereignty. The disputes between militant believer movements (Bin Laden v Khomeinei) are why they call it sectarianism.
    The fact that KOPASSUS has supressed an Islamic secessionist movement in Aceh does not imply that KOPASSUS is anti-Islamic militants. It only implies that KOPASSUS is interested in INODN sovereignty as well as Islamic fidelity, which I have never denied.

    where is the evidence behind your assertion that I’m “happy to appease terrorists�?

    I dont really have any evidence to support the accusation that Fyodor “appeases terrorists”. Although he does radiate a soft-on-terrorism vibe when he mounts his, rather water-logged, high horse. I hurled the appeasement charge at him because he annoyed me with his equally baseless charge that I am in favour of torturing terrorists. I withdraw.

  2. Jack,

    #1 You neglected to mention you were (vociferously) for the Iraq war before it started and while it was on. It’s good to see you can change your mind, but you don’t mind rewriting history, do you?
    #2 Which unit do you (potentially) serve with?
    #3 Of course you don’t support torture but “bastardizing terrorist suspects� is OK, right? And nothing untoward happened at GTMO? Glad we cleared that up.
    #4 The detention at GTMO is illegal. Martial law does not apply on US territory when the US judicial system is functioning. The Supreme Court has ruled that GTMO is US territory. You’re dead wrong on this point. Further argument will only embarrass you.
    #5 Either you support the rule of law or you don’t. You say that you’re opposed to torture and illegal detention, but then apologise for the flagrant example of both at GTMO. You are a hypocrite, and it has nothing to do with the “fuzziness� of the world.
    #6 As I’ve demonstrated, you’re clearly wrong on KOPASSUS, not that it matters all that much. You only introduced the organization into this thread in a bizarre attempt to connect ET with the GWOT. You’ve subsequently introduced the Sunni [not “suuni�] – Shiite conflict in Iraq as a parallel to Indonesia without mentioning that there is NO similarity in Indonesia – Sunni Islam is overwhelmingly dominant there.

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